See Vercingetorix. Vercingetorix is puny. Hark! Hear Puny Vercingetorix clank. Wherefore does he clank? It is the clanking of his armour as he marches. Puny Vercingetorix is marching in his armour o’er the hills and far away.
So puny is Puny Vercingetorix that he has fallen behind the other marchers. Yes, there are other marchers. He does not march alone. Puny Vercingetorix is merely one tiny puny cog in a martial host. It is an army, clanking o’er the hills and far away. Puny Vercingetorix is bringing up the rear, having fallen behind, so far behind that even if his vision were piercing he could barely see the host ahead. But he is short-sighted as well as puny. He is short-sighted and has no spectacles, for nobody in the army is allowed spectacles. It is like the court of King George III.
What usually happens when a straggler falls far behind the marching host is that they are waylaid and carried off by marauding bears. There have been countless newspaper reports of such occurrences, most distressing, most distressing. But Puny Vercingetorix, though he is puny and myopic and neurasthenic and prone to terrible fits and something of a halfwit, is nevertheless possessed of a singular quality which, in his current circumstances, is as valuable as a chest crammed with precious stones. Puny Vercingetorix speaks the language of bears, at least the language of the bears that roam these hills far away.
He was taught to speak with bears when tiny, attached to a travelling circus.
Now, if as a straggling marcher cut off from the host he is waylaid by bears, Puny Vercingetorix will tilt his head to the appropriate angle, and raise one eyebrow, and make significant passing movements with his hands, and from his throat will erupt the most extraordinary noise. And the bears, rather than carrying him off to their lair, there to do him unimaginable harm, will each of them flop to the ground and flail about, beatific smiles on their faces. In the parlance of Doddy, he will have tickled their funny bones.
Up ahead, the host is clashing with a rival host, an army terrible with banners. Puny Vercingetorix is well out of it. He sits on a clump, and takes from his pouch his curds and whey, and snacks upon them, waiting for bears. It is the first Thursday of the fifteenth century.
And that piece first appeared in the first month of the Year of Our Lord two thousand and fourteen.